After a breathless few weeks during which the entire sporting world has been talking about Chinese football (with yours truly quoted by AFP three times, FT twice, El Pais, Hicimos, Vice Sports and interviewed by CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera among others), let’s take a look at a few stories that could be cropping up over the next 12 months…
23-year-old Alexander Levy became the 20th different winner in 20 years of the Volvo China Open on Sunday, thanks in large part to his scorching 10-under-par round of 62 on Friday. It was his first career title and he comfortably held off challenges from the likes of Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Francesco Molinari.
John Daly is the Mike Tyson of golf: you never know what’s coming next, but you can’t look away. During a brief visit to the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai on Thursday, I watched as Daly – at that time leading the tournament at 4-under-par – hit his drive on the 18th hole straight into the rough, just a few yards from where I was standing. As the trio of Daly, England’s Simon Khan and home favorite Wu Ashun prepared to play their shots, Daly looked on incredulously as one of the walking marshals stood on his ball, pushing it further into the grass.
“Oh man! You just stood on my ball! You just stood on my ball, didn’t you?”
The kids have been getting all the attention recently – and not just the teens, but those in single digits – though it will take a good few years before any of them progress to the pro ranks. But it’s important to have figures for China’s next generation of golfers to look up to, targets whose records they want to beat, and Wu Ashun – at 28, still young in golfing terms – will today become just the second Chinese male ever to play in the Open Championship.
While the teenage males (12-year-old Ye Wocheng, 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, 16-year-old Dou Zecheng and others) have garnered recent attention for men’s golf in China, it’s the women who continue to lead the way.
Phelps loses his balls
That was Michael Phelps’ assessment after playing golf with Matt Kuchar at Mission Hills golf club in Haikou. He kept he temper remarkably well, despite, hole-after-hole, losing his ball to Chinese fans hellbent on snagging a souvenir. Admittedly, as the video shows, he’s not the straightest hitter, but even when he nails the middle of the fairway, the ball is gone by the time he gets there.
“Someone picked it up and had a pen for me to sign it.”